How to Clean Walls Without Removing Paint

young woman uniform holding bucket with cleaning products showing how to clean walls without removing paint

Remember how beautiful and clean your walls looked when freshly painted? It doesn’t take long for them to become dirty with grimy fingerprints, dirt, and scuff marks. Thankfully, there are easy ways to clean walls and baseboards because most paints are formulated to allow you to clean walls without stripping paint. Whether your freshly painted walls got dirty or you want to restore walls to their freshly painted look, learn how to clean walls without ruining the paint.

How To Clean Walls With Different Paint Finishes

Interior paints come in various finishes, so it’s essential to know how to clean walls without removing the paint before you start cleaning. Duller finishes such as matte and eggshell are harder to clean without removing the paint. Satin, semigloss, and high gloss have more sheen. Higher sheens are more durable and easier to wipe clean without damaging the walls.

Tools and Cleaning Agents to Clean Walls

Cleaning the walls sounds like a long, drawn-out process, but there are easy ways to clean walls and baseboards when you have the right tools on hand. Here’s what you’ll need for streak-free clean walls without stripping the paint.

  • Rubber gloves
  • Two buckets
  • Two sponges
  • Cleaning rags
  • Microfiber cloth or vacuum with a brush attachment
  • Old towels or drop cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Degreasers
  • Step ladder, dust mop or broom to reach high places

Prep the Walls First

Even vertical walls get dusty, especially near the trim, windows, and lighting fixtures. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want easy ways to clean walls and baseboard fast, dust the walls before you take a sponge to them. If you don’t, the dust mixes with the water, creates muddy streaks and drips, and dirties up the clean water. Here are some smart prep tips:

  • Remove artwork, drapes, curtains, and anything on or near the walls.
  • Move the furniture to the center of the room to give yourself plenty of room to clean.
  • Use a microfiber cloth or vacuum with a brush attachment to dust the baseboards and trim. You can also use a dust mop with a clean microfiber cloth, or a broom covered with a microfiber cloth to remove the dust quickly.
  • Place old towels or a drop cloth to catch drips.

How To Clean Walls Without Removing Paint

Removing grease and grime is one thing, but knowing how to clean walls without ruining the paint color is another. Do a spot test on an area out of view, like behind artwork or furniture, to ensure the cleaning solution doesn’t streak or remove paint. Tackle the walls first, then follow the same steps with the baseboards and painted doors.

One important note: don’t attempt to clean or paint over water or smoke damage. They should be cleaned and painted by a professional to safeguard your health and the structural integrity of the walls. Here’s how to clean painted door and walls:

  • Fill a 2-gallon bucket with water and add one to two squirts of mild dishwashing detergent. Fill another bucket with water for rinsing.
  • Avoid getting water on electrical connections. If outlets and other electrical components need to be cleaned, turn off the electricity at the circuit box.
  • Dip the sponge in the soapy water and ring it out.
  • Prevent streaking by starting at the bottom of the wall and work your way up. If muddy streaks appear, wipe them away.
  • Dip the second sponge into the clean water for rinsing. Wring out the sponge and rinse the wall.
  • For stubborn stains, dip the sponge in baking soda and gently scrub the stain and rinse.
  • If that doesn’t work, try stirring one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar into a quart of water. Let the solution sit for 10 minutes before using.
  • For stubborn stains on semigloss and glossy finishes use a degreaser (found in the paint department) with a sponge and rinse.

How To Clean Your Walls Fast

If you don’t have a ladder or just want to clean your walls faster, use a mop for washing walls.  But first, it’s essential you know how to clean painted walls with a mop because not all mops are safe for painted walls. Avoid any abrasive material mop head, as it may scratch or rub off some of the paint finish. Sponge mops are ideal for this task.

Next, fill a bucket with water and add a couple of squirts of mild dishwashing detergent. Fill another bucket with water for rinsing. Dip the sponge mop and wring it tightly a couple of times to remove excess water. Work from top to bottom and rinse as needed in the clean water bucket.

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